The Theme Of Guilt In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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As a very famous author, Nathaniel Hawthorne mostly wrote about the puritans in colonial America. Even though the puritan religion died soon after the Salem Witch Trials, Hawthorne is obsessed with their society and writes a lot about the 1600’s. The Scarlet Letter is also based around the puritan community in the 1600’s. While it is not known whether this novel is based on a true story or not it still captures the attention of many readers. The story contains a lot of symbolism that is hidden and encourages the reader to dig deeper into the book. In his novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the symbolism of the Scarlet Letter, Dimmesdale, and Burrs to contribute to the theme of guilt. The main character, Hester Prynne, is a…show more content…
Even though he is a man of God he had an affair with Hester and nobody knows that. Dimmesdale lives with a man that goes by Chillingworth. Roger Chillingworth is actually Hester's lost husband but they have decided to keep that a secret and Dimmesdale does not find out until near the end of the book. Chillingworth finds out that Dimmesdale is the father and is planning to take revenge. Hawthorne narrates, “ The physician advanced directly in front of his patient, laid his hand upon his bosom, and thrust aside the vestment… with a wild look of wonder, joy, and horror.” (Hawthorne 126). Hawthorne imagines this moment for the reader as chillingworth finds what Dimmesdale has been doing to himself. When he finds this out he is filled with emotions and is happy to see him suffer from guilt. Later on we find exactly what Dimmesdale is doing to himself. Hawthorne describes, “ In Mr. Dimmesdale’s secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge.” (Hawthorne 132). He describes this room to the reader in order to show that Dimmesdale feels so guilty and sinful that he is torturing himself. This contributes to the theme of guilt because it shows he feels so guilty he will beat himself but not kill himself. He doesn’t kill himself because that would be the easy way out. Both of these moments contribute to the overall theme of guilt because Dimmesdale is hurting himself and it is like the devil is feeding off of his suffering. A final symbol that
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